Is Austin still 'weird'?

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by HEATHER KOVAR

KVUE

Posted on May 7, 2014 at 10:39 PM

Poll:
Is Austin still 'weird'?

AUSTIN — A marker on South Lamar Boulevard at Riverside Drive reads:

1969-2014 RIP 'Weird'

Whoever put up the marker seems to be saying growth is the grave for Austin's "cool."

"There’s new weird stuff, and there’s still old weird stuff here. But it’s endangered,” said Red Wassenich, credited for coining the phrase “Keep Austin Weird” in 2000.

His wife printed bumper stickers and he put up a website, but he said other businesses made the slogan famous.

The Austin Community College Rio Grande campus librarian is keeping track, and says some of the important "weird ones" have disappeared.

"Spamarama is gone; Leslie died; but there is still Eeyore's Birthday Party and Crazy Carl Hickerson,” said Wassenich.

Artist Jim Franklin did the first poster for Eeyore’s Birthday Party in its 50th year, as well as this year's 51st event.

"It predates all of the Austin weird conscious weirdness," said Franklin.

He’s known for his artwork for the Armadillo World Headquarters, as well as opening the Vulcan Gas Company in 1967. Both are two former Austin music halls that are pioneers for Austin weird.

"You can’t help it. You don’t have to keep Austin weird. That phrase is what keeps Austin from really being weird,” said Franklin.

While he's being kicked out of his studio so they can build high rises on Red River Street at Waller Creek, Franklin said if he had the money, he'd live in an Austin high rise... though he’d prefer a trade.

"Just let me paint there for a while, see what views I can come up with, then you can rent this apartment as the place where the paintings were made,” said Franklin.

The latest loss of an Austin icon comes as the city says goodbye to the 37-year mainstay Tamale House No. 3 on Airport Boulevard at 50th Street. Owner Robert Vasquez died last week.

"It was just really soulful, and the food was always fun to go have something a little bit old Austin, a little bit edgy,” said Ted Hall, owner of Austin Guitar School.

He's been teaching in Austin since 1986.

"Austin is a place where it’s a melting pot of all different types of creative people,” Hall said.

While some weird is dwindling, Hall says the music, art and history will keep Austin moving to its own beat.

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